By Hannah Reich Berman
Author’s note: This is not about attendance at camp visiting day. But this piece is a repeat, as was last week’s piece. This repeat is once again by popular request. What follows here is for those grandparents who chose to skip visiting day and now feel that they may have missed out on something special. Based solely on my one and only visiting day experience, I offer a formula on how to re-create what you missed. It is best to implement the following plan each year in late June, as that will prevent any indecision during July and August.
Here is my plan for simulating the visiting-day experience:
Early in the morning, make a tuna-fish sandwich. Tuna on a bagel will do, but white bread is a better choice. Wrap the sandwich in foil, take it outside, and place it on the driveway. Be sure it is directly in the sun. Finally, place a brick squarely on top of the sandwich and leave it there. You are ready to begin the simulation of the actual day at camp. Enjoy!
At approximately 9 a.m., go sit in your car! You may keep the air conditioner on. If you would have been driving to a camp with only one other person, you may sit in the front seat. If, however, you would have been traveling with adult children and would have been sitting in the back seat, be sure to tighten your space. This may be effectively done by placing items all around yourself, such as blankets, beach chairs, coolers, and the like. Be sure that the front seat is pushed back as far as it will go, giving you minimal leg room. When you begin to feel as miserable as you do when sitting in coach on a flight to Israel, you will know that you have reached the desired level of discomfort.
Do not exit the car! It is mandatory that you sit for at least two hours. When two hours have passed, you may leave the car. First, stretch your legs and then go into the house to use the bathroom and get a drink. After that, go back outside and take a three-minute walk around the car. This is for more leg-stretching before continuing on your journey. That accomplished, climb back in and sit for another hour or two. The idea is to spend exactly as much time in the car as you would have spent if you were going to the children’s camp. When your time is up, reenter your home.
Lock all windows and doors and immediately place rolled-up schmattes at the bottom of every outside door and every window. This will prevent any fresh air from seeping into the house. Now that the place is hermetically sealed, turn your attention to the thermostat. Set the heat as high as it will go; 100° should do it. Stop and wait until your breathing is labored. Once that happens, you may proceed to the next step.
Have pictures of the children taped onto a wall. Kiss each picture and then don’t look at them again. Find objects, large and small, and scatter them on the floor all around your home. This is an attempt to create an obstacle course similar to that which one encounters at camp because of holes in camp lawns. Be sure that the objects you select are ones that can cause you to fall should you miss seeing them as you walk. Actually, you have an advantage here, because the objects will be visible to you, while the holes in the grass are often hidden.
You are now ready to go “visit the bunks.” Bunks are often located atop a hill. Find a folded beach chair. Put that in one hand and a heavy picnic basket in the other. Ladies, be sure to have a weighty handbag hanging from one shoulder; either shoulder will do. Find a staircase. You may use the basement stairs or a set of stairs that lead up to your bedroom. The choice is yours, but, keeping in mind the fact that hot air rises, my suggestion is that you use the upper staircase, because it will be much hotter up at the top.
It is not necessary to run up and down the stairs. You may walk, but not too slowly—remember, we are simulating here, and at camp, grandparents need to keep pace with other family members. Go up and down the staircase. You may gauge for yourself how many times, but I would suggest five staircase runs per bunk. If you have two children at camp and would need to visit both of those bunks, ten trips will do it. If you have three kids to visit, you will need to do fifteen runs. And so on and so forth. You get the idea. If you are not breathing like a racehorse by the time you are through, something is wrong. Your picnic basket may not have been heavy enough. Make your own adjustments.
It should now be approaching early afternoon. Retrieve your sandwich and bring it inside. You are now ready to eat lunch. You may have a drink, but not from the refrigerator. The drink must be room temperature. If your sandwich is not smushed, warm, and soggy, you did something wrong.
After lunch, you are ready to rest, but lying on a bed or a comfortable sofa is forbidden. Your rest period must take place in a beach chair. Unfold the one you used when you were going up and down the stairs. If you must lie down, you may do so, but only on a blanket that you have placed on the floor. If the blanket is on a carpet or a rug, that is acceptable. Think of it as grass.
Remain seated, or lying down if that was your preference, for one hour, and then go back to the pictures of the children. Say goodbye to each photo and kiss each of them once more. Now head back to the car. No further instructions are necessary. If you forget how to adjust your space and comfort level in the car, just go back to the relevant paragraph above and reread the instructions.
When your time in the vehicle is up, you may reenter your home, removing all schmattes from doors and windows. In your haste to get to the thermostat to turn the heat off and to turn the A/C on, be sure to remember the objects on the floor. Take a cool shower, lie down on your comfortable bed, and, when your energy returns, pick up all the junk that you had placed on the floor. Note: Clearing up the obstacle path might have to wait until the next day, because there is a good chance that, once you lie down on the bed, you will sleep straight through the night. But by the following day you should be more or less back to normal.
Congratulations! You have experienced visiting day in the truest sense. So, if you skipped the one up at camp, you now know what you missed.
My final suggestion is that you put this away for next year! v
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.